Manti Te'o ended a long media hiatus Tuesday, the first day of the San Diego Chargers' three-day minicamp. Te'o had been kept out of the spotlight by the Chargers since the 2013 NFL Draft to help the rookie linebacker focus more on football and less on off-field distractions. At a press conference Tuesday, Te'o said that he has benefited from the decreased attention.
"I've had the time to focus on the plays and focus on what goes on on the field," Te'o said, "and that has definitely helped me improve."
The Chargers drafted Te'o with the No. 38 overall pick in April. Immediately following his senior season at Notre Dame, Te'o was projected as a potential Top 10 pick, but a bad showing in the BCS Championship Game against Alabama, poor workouts and a very public fake girlfriend scandal dropped his stock.
Te'o is apparently flashing what made him a Heisman Trophy finalist in workouts, however. Bill Williamson, an AFC West blogger for ESPN, reported that the Chargers coaches are "thrilled" with Te'o's progress, and Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune called Te'o one of the Chargers' most NFL-ready rookies of the last nine years. Meanwhile, the Chargers' locker room has reportedly been welcoming, even though Te'o's back story makes him an easy target for hazing.
All-in-all, the Te'o era in San Diego appears to be off to a good start, which feels unreal given what an awful offseason he had.